In Lok Sabha polls, Haryana looks at semi-final
Haryana's 10 Lok Sabha seats go to the polls on Thursday and the outcome will have a bearing on state politics six months later. This election, seen as a semi-final, will dictate the possible course of the Haryana assembly polls to be held in October.punjab Updated: Apr 08, 2014 17:03 IST
Haryana's 10 Lok Sabha seats go to the polls on Thursday and the outcome will have a bearing on state politics six months later. This election, seen as a semi-final, will dictate the possible course of the Haryana assembly polls to be held in October.
In the general election there is no straight fight between the ruling Congress and the principal opposition, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), allied to the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have made the contest multi-cornered this time.
In 2009, the Congress won nine out of the 10 Lok Sabha seats. The Hisar seat was won by former chief minister Bhajan Lal on behalf of the HJC, his new political outfit.
The Congress, which has ruled the state under the leadership of chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda since March 2005, is certainly not looking at repeating its 2009 performance.
The party has faced a series of desertions in recent weeks. Four of its former leaders, including a MP and a legislator who have quit, have been fielded by the BJP.
Hooda's closest aide and advisor for a decade, former union minister Venod Sharma, too deserted him last month. Sharma tried his best to jump on to the BJP-HJC bandwagon but failed.
Only the Rohtak Lok Sabha seat, represented by Hooda's son Deepender Hooda, is still considered safe for the Congress.
Although Deepender Hooda has been bed-ridden for over a month due to slip disc and has not been able to campaign, the Congress is likely to retain its hold on Rohtak.
The Congress faces an anti-Congress wave due to allegations of large-scale corruption in land deals in Haryana and infighting.
Some party leaders, like Ambala MP and former union minister Selja, a bitter critic of Hooda, opted out of the Lok Sabha race and took the Rajya Sabha route.
While the Congress is fighting with its back to the wall, the INLD has felt the absence of its two top leaders, Om Prakash Chautala and his elder son Ajay Chautala.
Both are in Tihar Jail after their conviction in a teacher recruitment scam by a CBI court in January last year. Even though Abhay Chautala, younger son of the former chief minister, and other leaders have tried their best to keep up the momentum, the party is not on solid ground.
The INLD has fielded Dushyant Chautala, 26, a fourth generation leader of former deputy prime minister Devi Lal's clan, from Hisar.
The concern for the Congress and the INLD is from the HJC-BJP alliance. The BJP, with a limited presence in Haryana, has fielded four turncoats from the Congress in the eight Lok Sabha seats it is contesting.
In Karnal, the BJP brought in a newspaper owner from Delhi as its candidate.
The HJC, led by Hisar MP Kuldeep Bishnoi, is contesting Hisar and Sirsa.
The fourth major party in the fray, AAP, is new in Haryana's Jat-dominated politics.
AAP's top leaders Arvind Kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav, who is the Gurgaon candidate, belong to Haryana.
After the AAP's good showing in Delhi's assembly polls, the party has tried to focus on Haryana. But the AAP has not been able to build up much.
The BSP too has influence in some areas and is mainly cashing on the anti-Dalit image of the Hooda government.
The Lok Sabha polls will show where these parties stand -- vis-a-vis the October assembly polls.